A Lesson in Procrastination

It seems that we took matters into our own hands a little too late. The bun, who is really far less bun-like and more boy-like these days but closely resembles the gravity-defying high-flying squirrel monkey, is not really talking as of yet. It seems it's not a priority with him; instead he reserves his energies for learning how to climb onto the counter to play with the coffee maker, dismantling the safety gadgets employed to keep him from being electrocuted, and hauling the kitchen step stool from one verboten area to the next in search of new dastardly and daring feats to keep his parents on their toes. In this he is very effective.

But talking really hasn't been a pressing issue for him. He signs the important words: "cat" is well represented as he chases them through the house at top speed and they flee in terror. His few vocal utterances include a variety of words that sound the same: juice, shoes, keys, cheese, represent generally important parts of his world. He calls me "Imama" instead of "Mama," which is really my fault since I would always point to my chest and say "I'm mama!" His father is either "Papa" or, more mysteriously, "Arf" which we have to conclude is from a book in which Lars would read the concluding lines "I'm a dog! I'm a dog! I'm a dog!"

"Star" is very clear, although sounds a lot like "Stick" which seems to have been conflated in his mind; both are now "St-rck." Moon is "Nononono" which is confusing since I'm never sure whether he's talking about the moon or vociferously questioning the moon's existence. And of course he says "No" like a champion. If you're going to have a word, that's a good one to have.

But the rest of the English language doesn't seem too important to him. Occasionally he'll pop out a new word unbidden and we're thrilled, although he may retire it as quickly as it came. Other times an adopted word clings to him like a barnacle and he repeats it over and over, lulling himself to sleep with it, singing it like a mantra during car rides, showing it off for all admirers.

Take, for example, his newest word, "Fuck." Or more precisely, "Oh, fuck."

That one popped out in a car ride in which his papa, almost getting blind-sided or missing a turn or something said quite naturally, "Oh fuck!"

A clear, high note rang from the back seat: "Ofuck." We looked at each other. The prophesied early curse word had sprung from the lips of our darling boy, tolling the ribald words of a bawdy house in the dulcet tones of innocence. "Ofuck. Ofuck. Ofuck," he intoned in the back seat as his eyes gazed out the window at the passing landscape.

We realized we were too late. Just the week before we had been talking about the necessity of curbing our colorful language around the bun. But it's difficult to take an amorphous deadline seriously, when the guardian of the deadline hardly says anything at all. We had time, we thought.

We were wrong, apparently. Now we're scrambling to put the genie back in the bottle, and every time we hear him say, "Ofuck," we say, "Truck? Where's the truck?" or "Duck? What a nice duck!" but he's no dummy and our pathetically belated ministrations seem doomed. Even though we've more or less eradicated the ever-useful, always practical "Fuck" from our vocab, just yesterday "Oh, shit" propelled from my lips as a bottle of some viscous, sticky goo was administered to the floor through the diligence of our young scion. He hasn't mastered "O-shit," but he recognized enough similarity of experience to pull out that old chestnut, "Ofuck" from the small but mighty arsenal of words at his disposal.

Sometimes we hear him practicing to himself in his crib over the baby monitor, honing each syllable with razor-sharp precision. "Ofuck," he sings to himself. "Oooohfuck," he says more slowly, rolling the sounds around on his tongue. Of course the irony is not lost on us that he can barely say our names ("Imama" and "Arf") but can pronounce the one word we wish he wouldn't say with perfect clarity.